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Team Bahrain look to the future in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

Team Bahrain duo of Mohammed Mattar and Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa are looking to the future in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East after finishing fifth and ninth in the final race of the season at the Bahrain International Circuit in an encounter which saw Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani crowned champion. 

Starting sixth on the grid, Mattar produced his best race of the season, negotiating a tough midfield battle to claim his highest position of the campaign. Meanwhile team-mate Al Khalifa, starting fourth on the grid was also involved in a tight battle and moved down the grid to finish ninth.

Race 2 in Round 6 was interrupted after the initial start after an on-track incident and was re-started with a rolling start. 

Speaking after the race, Mattar said: “It is a positive end to the season and claiming my highest finish. It was one of the best races of the series so far with action and positions changing constantly. It was very tight on the inner-circuit and it proved to be very difficult to move up with Al-Azhari showing good pace. It was a great learning curve this campaign and we have to take what we learnt into next season and make sure we do not make the same mistakes. “

Round 6 was billed as the ultimate title fight between Al Nabooda Racings Clemens Schmid and Zaid Ashkanani, who took a five point lead into the final race. The ramifications at the start were clear for Ashkanani. He simply had to win the encounter or finish two places behind the UAE-based Schmid. The Kuwaiti produced the race of his short career to claim third place, behind Charlie Frijns and championship runner-up Schmid. 

Schmid made full use of his advantage to extend the gap between himself and the rest of field to win Race 2 by 4.393 seconds with Frijns also maintaining a substantial distance between himself and the next driver.

The real-battle was for third place and delivered the fight of the season between Ashkanani, Al-Azhari and AlFaisal. Al Nabooda Racing’s Al-Azhari initially took control of the spot despite being bumper-to-bumper with Ashkanani in the opening laps. Then Saudi Falcons AlFaisal pounced on a mistake by Al-Azhari to overtake the UAE-driver into third. But he never had full control of the position and was under constant pressure from Ashkanani.

At the mid-point of the race, Ashkanani, Al-Azhari and AlFaisal were neck-and-neck going into the first corner and the decisive moment of the race was to unfold. The Kuwaiti teenager was sandwiched between his adversaries but kept his composure to break free and take full control of third and the challenge title.

In the team category Clemens Schmid and Karim Al Azhari’s impressive form over the season means Al Nabooda Racing were victorious in the team title ahead of Saudi Falcons and Skydive Dubai Falcons. In the Silver Michelin category Antonia Giancola emerged the winner. 

Final Gold Category overall challenge standings - Top 6

 

Name

Country

Team

Points

1st

Zaid Ashkanani

Kuwait

Buzaid GT

245

2nd

Clemens Schmid

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

244

3rd 

Abdulaziz AlFaisal

KSA

Saudi Falcons

224

4th

Karim Al Azhari

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

186

5th

Hasher Al Maktoum

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

181

6th

Saeed Al Mehairi

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

181 

Final overall team title standings - Top 3

 

Name

Country

Points

1st

Al Nabooda Racing

UAE

426

2nd

Saudi Falcons

UAE

361

3rd

Skydive Dubai Falcons

KSA

359

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Bahrain International Circuit

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